A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.
Biography of Charles Lindburgh from his days of precarious mail runs in aviation's infancy to his design of a small transatlantic plane and the vicissitudes of its takeoff and epochal flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Written by
Paul Emmons <email@example.com>
After the film received bad notices from preview audiences, it was extensively re-edited with some new footage shot. Composer Franz Waxman was no longer available so veteran film composer Roy Webb was hired along with Warner Brothers Music Director Ray Heindorf to come up with new cues based on Waxman's original material. The Main Title was altered to add "La Marseillaise" to the tail end. Other cues were rewritten, especially the entire buildup to and including the landing at Le Bourget. This sequence had been more straight forward with Lindbergh landing his plane. In the revised version, he became disoriented and at one point asked for God's help. The Heindorf/Webb replacement cue utilized Waxman's themes interwoven into a stunning cue which was expertly conducted by Heindorf. The cue ends as Lindbergh shuts off the engine. All-in-all, about fifteen minutes of new music was mixed into the final film. See more »
While training the priest to fly, two trees stand in the middle of the field. These same trees are seen in the middle of the field when Lindbergh takes off for Paris. See more »
[checking his copy]
Here at the Garden City Hotel, less than a mile from Roosevelt Field... less than three-quarters of a mile from Roosevelt Field... everyone is waiting, as they have been now for seven days and nights, waiting for the rain to stop...
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Coming across this on a tour through the works of Billy Wilder, I was prepared to be underwhelmed- possibly self-serving autobiography, possibly boring Jimmy Stewart, but I came out quite impressed.
Most surprising of all was the way that Wilder kept things moving- from the framework of the flight of the Spirit of St. Louis we cut away to various bits of back story. Some tell us about the preparation of the voyage- of the skull-sweat and innovations required to make this plane. (The plane seems so primitive- no radio, or radar- and yet, we can appreciate what a wonderful technological marvel it was) Some of the flashbacks are almost just comic relief, but they all tend to serve the story well.
As for the voyage itself, we get an excellent presentation of how to find the dramatic possibilities of a long (over thirty hours!) flight. The scenes detailing Lindbergh's exhaustion are exquisite, and we feel an almost eerie high as Stewart forces himself through.
Jimmy Stewart was humble and folksy as always, but outside the range of hokiness. During a long solo flight when he has no one else to act to, we are sucked in to the tiny world of the plane's cockpit.
Thus, overall, a very enjoyable experience- going way beyond the meagre expectations I had going in. One slight complaint is that the videotape that I watched had a jarring pan-and-scan that really seemed to subtract from the composition of a lot of shots. But what can you do?
1957, colour. Rating: 6 out of 10 (above average).
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